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Indybay Feature
Preliminary Hearing Begins for Seven Defendants Associated with 75 River Bank Occupation
by Alex Darocy (alex [at]
Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:55 AM
On January 7, a preliminary hearing began for seven of those charged in association with the Fall 2011 occupation of the vacant bank at 75 River Street in Santa Cruz, when community members hoped to "liberate" the space and turn it into a community center during the height of the national Occupy movement. After a variety of legal delays, the court will decide who, if any, of the seven of the eleven who were originally charged will stand trial. Charges against four of the individuals were previously dismissed in 2012.
The seven defendants, Cameron Laurendeau, Franklin Alcantara, Gabriella Ripley-Phipps, Brent Adams, Robert Norse, Becky Johnson, and Desiree Foster, and their seven attorneys were present, as was prosecutor Rebekah Young, and Santa Cruz Judge Paul Burdick.

The attorneys huddled around the defense desk with their laptops and various documents, as six of the defendants sat on the bench, lined up behind them. One defendant, Desiree Foster, was forced to sit in the audience section of the court and located two rows back, placing her far away from her legal council during the proceedings.

Three prosecution witnesses took the stand before the day was over: Lt. Larry Richard, Sgt Michael Harms, and Officer Michael Headley, all of the Santa Cruz Police Department.

The current seven defendants are still charged with crimes that carry serious penalties if they are found guilty, including felony conspiracy to commit vandalism and/or trespass, felony vandalism, misdemeanor trespass by entering and occupying, and misdemeanor trespass by refusing to leave private property.

Charges were dismissed against Ed Rector and Grant Wilson by Judge Burdick in April of 2012, and Bradley Stuart Allen and Alex Darocy, both Indybay journalists, had the charges against them dismissed also by Burdick in May of 2012.

The preliminary hearing is set to continue on Tuesday, January 8 at 10am in Dept 6 at the Santa Cruz Courthouse at 701 Ocean Street in Santa Cruz.

For more information about those charged, see:

Alex Darocy
§Santa Cruz Courthouse
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
§Support the Santa Cruz Eleven
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
§Supporters filled the hall in front of Dept 6
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
§Sgt Harms and Robert Norse
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
Robert Norse hams it up with Sgt Michael Harms of the SCPD. In the background are Officer Winston, Officer Gunter, and Lt Richard, all of the Santa Cruz Police Department.
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
§Sgt Michael Harms testifies
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
§Officer Michael Headley of the SCPD
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
§Robert Norse and Franklin Alcantara
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
by Alex Darocy Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 12:56 AM
§Court Separation
by Alex Darocy (alex [at] Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 6:14 AM
I have interviewed several defendants about Desiree Foster sitting in the audience of the court during the preliminary hearings, and it is still unclear to them how it was decided that she sit there. Though she was seated there fully with the judge's knowledge, I cannot say definitively that it was due to a "mandate," so I am retracting my use of that word in the comments section of this article, and I am also retracting the statement in the article that she was "forced" to sit in the audience section..

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Keep it Real
Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 8:22 AM
You slant the article by implying that Desiree was forced to sit removed from council, while your photo clearly shows empty seats in the row ahead of her that would have allowed her to sit closer.

Keep it real; the choice was hers.
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 8:45 AM

See also comments under the Sentinel story at

Hang in there, everyone!
by Alex Darocy
(alex [at] Tuesday Jan 8th, 2013 8:52 AM
I intended to focus on the fact that Desiree was separated from her attorney, I believe per court instructions, as one defendant was forced to sit outside in the court room's audience area. I believe it was a mandate, not a choice.

If you look at my photos, you can tell how far away the audience is from the attorneys, no matter what the seating configuration.
by John E. Colby
Wednesday Jan 9th, 2013 12:34 AM
None of these defendants should ever had to set foot in the courthouse. Their persecution by DA Bob Lee and his prosecutor Rebekah Young is a local disgrace. DA Bob Lee and prosecutor Rebekah Young conspired to deprive the Santa Cruz Eleven of their civil rights under the color of law by abusing their positions of authority.

In addition to setting themselves up for civil lawsuits for color of law violations, I suggest filing color of law complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI.

I am willing to assist the Santa Cruz Eleven file color of law complaints with the U.S. Attorney General and the FBI. I have filed civil rights complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice before. Done right, this could initiate an investigation which could eventually result in civil and/or criminal penalties for DA Bob Lee and prosecutor Rebekah Young.

DA Bob Lee and prosecutor Rebekah Young must be held accountable for their misdeeds. They are a local disgrace.
by Sum Dim
Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 12:03 AM
Becky on some forum, was commenting on how the defendants were "victimized" by this process. In fact, I think she suggested that the defendants were the "only" victims in all of this. Both her supporters and her detractors were commenting that this ruling was a "victory" for the accused, disagreeing on whether they were happy about that, or whether it made them wish to go throw themselves off the nearest bridge in despair.

I would put it to Becky and all the other participants in this process, on all sides, that the process itself, due process, specifically, has been the saving grace, and the affirmation that much is right in our world. The defendants were no more victims here than were the shareholders of Wells Fargo and whichever Berkshire Hathaway reinsurers actually pay to fix that building. Nor were they victims any more than the citizenry of Santa Cruz are when Robert Norse makes everyone waste $150,000 fighting silly lawsuits over perceived injustices that, as the courts ultimately rule, exist only in his rich imagination.

The defendants received due process in all it's glory. We should all thank our fellow citizens for the opportunity to live in a society where we can all receive a fair hearing.

In many places in the world, an Occupy movement couldn't happen, and people like Robert and Becky would be taken out back and summarily executed. Not only does that not happen in America, but they receive a fair shake every time they go to court. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose. But every time, justice is served.

Let us all give thanks for that. And congratulate them on their acquittal today.
by Linda Lemaster
Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 8:30 AM
Dim Sum, I am personally sympathetic with your view of justice. And truly am grateful we still have relative freedom, and the right to defend ourselves against our accusers in some degree in this Country, not so for most of humanity.

But, when you suggest Due Process is working, could you define "due"? I have become alarmed at the rate of compromise and outright neglect gearing California's courts.

Like our roads, "Lady Justice" has really taken a series of direct hits, and has not had the upkeep and systems management required for an infrastructure to keep pace with increases in demand. Not just population bubbles; also the monolithic growth of demand for legal answers in a field of (i believe) accelerated economic and cultural changes.
by Sum Dim
Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 2:47 PM
Linda, before I begin, I am Sum, of the Leicstershire branch of the Dim family, and not Dim, of the famous Sum family from Gangnam, South Korea.

No worries. It's a common mistake.

I'm not sure how, directly, to answer your question, but I get the impression that the thrust of your query is that you feel that the defendants didn't receive their fair share of justice; that is to say that they were owed more justice than they received.

As I indicated, I feel that this process has affirmed that much, but not all, is right in our society. One could quarrel over the imperfection of the system, and to what extent the quality of justice is strain'd. However, the fact that the system produced the result it did, does in itself give the lie to the popular refrain on this site that we are living in a police state, and that our civic leaders and judiciary are akin to Nazis and fascists. Can you recall a police state in which the police were told to stuff it, and the state's prosecutors were fined for failure to comply with an evidentiary process? Of course not. In a police state, justice would have been meted out at the point of a gun, within an hour or two of that OccuDome thing being erected.

So, while Robert and Becky have won this battle, in a sense, in so doing, they have lost the bigger argument, which is over their claim that the system is incapable of justice.

Stalin didn't allow people to wear bathrobes in his halls of government. Robert wouldn't make it very long in an actual Stalinist state. People have died on battlefields in faraway places so that people like he and Becky Johnson can behave the way they do. This is a noble and a necessary thing in the furtherance of freedom. This terrible price, and the other expenditures associated with the machinery of keeping a free society functioning freely, such as police and courts, prosecutors and public defenders, are what we accept as the price of our freedom. It's worth remembering that its isn't free. Quite conversely, it is extraordinarily dear. It's a pay-to-play system, and when one engages it in the manner of the Santa Cruz Eleven (or Seven, or Four...), then one must be prepared to also bear the costs of seeking justice.

So, I've no sympathy for the defendants here, but I also have no sympathy for the police or the prosecution, who were either wrong, or incompetent. The only person I feel sorry for is Burdick, who must've been really exasperated at this enormous waste of his time.

I'll say again though, that the winners here are all of us, and the prize is our imperfect freedoms, for which we should all give thanks.
by John E. Colby
Friday Jan 11th, 2013 3:31 AM
Sum: you conflate two kinds of oppressive political systems with each other. Stalinism is one end of the control spectrum. The other end is the society employing the "Iron Cage" employed in Western Capitalist societies. In some ways the Soviets had more freedom because they had no illusions about the control matrix they lived inside.

Here is some reading for you Sum:

Max Weber described the bureaucratization of social order as "the polar night of icy darkness".

I also recommend Erich Fromm's Escape from Freedom:
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